If you're looking to purchase a new car, sometimes it's better to sell your old ride yourself, but many times a trade-in seems more doable, especially if you have a clunker that's hard to sell or you really need a car fast.
If you're looking for a used car then there are a ton of great websites that can make your search easy like Craigslist, Auto Trader, and Automotive.
Whether you may be interested in new or used cars, an important question to ask is what will the insurance cost be for the car you are looking to buy.
There are some new cars that can actually have lower insurance costs than a used car, and vice-versa.
Often the factors could be safety ratings or new technology that makes the car safer, or it could be that the car cost less to repair making it lower risk.
New or used, whichever you end up buying, you will need to insure that automobile.
A great way to find the best car insurance rate is to call your current insurance company, and have them quote you over the phone.
They'll be able to quickly pull up your file, and more importantly, your history (since you're already insured by them).
In addition, you could get more favorable premiums since they already know you.
It doesn't hurt to be a good driver though and if you have the rest of the clan under the same policy it will help lower costs more.
The next best thing is shopping around and checking out the other major car insurers who always promote their cheap car insurance premiums on TV and radio (Progressive, Farmers, Mercury and Geico come to mind).
The best way I found to get a pretty close idea on what you'll actually be paying with each company is instead of calling them and spending 10 minutes on the phone with each company, getting repeatedly pitched by the insurance phone salespeople until you finally give in to one of their offers, is to go online and quickly get your free quote on one of the multitude of car insurance quotes websites.
You can use their services to automatically get and compare quotes from all of the big insurers at once, and then have better knowledge of the overall playing field and how much you should expect to pay.
Once you've secured a pre-qualification online, you can give the best company a call and discuss the specifics.
One thing I've noticed is that the actual insurance price you get over the phone will, for the most part, be better than the online pre-qualification quote.
They like to err on the more expensive side online, while talking to someone directly can garner a little more personal attention and review.
Another tip would be to look at what you've used in the past.
Don't try to get more than you need.
If you only need certain coverage and could do fine with it, don't let the insurance company upsell you on features and benefits that you will not use and could raise your premiums even more.